Delhi Violence: Supreme Court Asks High Court To Hear Plea On March 6, Says Long Adjournment ‘Not Justified’
The Supreme Court asked the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to hear on March 6 a plea seeking lodging of FIRs against some Bhartiya Janata Party leaders for alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to recent riots here and said it may also explore the possibility of "peaceful resolution" of the dispute".
The apex court, which said it "wants to see if peace is possible", observed that adjournment of hearing by the high court for "such a long period" in April on separate petitions related to the violence in northeast Delhi was not "justified" and such matters should not be delayed for long.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde requested the chief justice of the high court to dispose of these matters "as expeditiously as possible" on their own merits and in accordance with the law and also prepone the hearing on other related pleas.
The bench, also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, directed that the hearing on other connected matters along with all the applications for impleadment and intervention on the issue, which have been adjourned to a later date by the high court, may be advanced and be taken up on March 6.
The bench passed the order while hearing a plea filed by 10 riots victims seeking registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma and others for their alleged hate speeches.
"The high court may also explore the possibility of peaceful resolution of the subject dispute," the bench said in its order.
However, the apex court kept to itself the issue related to the allegations of hate speech by activist Harsh Mander, who has also filed a separate plea before it related to the riots in which at least 42 people lost their lives and around 200 injured.
It asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file an affidavit during the day on behalf of Centre giving details regarding allegations of hate speech delivered by Mander, who had purportedly made objectionable comments during anti-CAA protests about the Supreme Court, Government and Parliament.
Mehta told the bench that Mander had "instigated anti-CAA protestors saying that ultimately justice will be done on the streets and the petition in the apex court has been filed for the sake of filing". Mander's lawyer, Karuna Nundy, vehemently denied the allegations and said he had not made any hate speech.
The court, however, was of the view that unless the issue of alleged hate speech is "not sorted", it will not allow Mander's counsel to argue his petition which will now be heard by the top court itself on March 6.
At the outset, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the 10 riots victims, claimed that the four BJP leaders are "still roaming free" despite making such instigating hate speeches which led to violence.
"It is possible that you register FIRs against one side only then the situation may aggravate. It cannot aggravate if you register FIRs against people from both the sides," the bench told Mehta.
Mehta said petitioners were "abusing the forum" of court and alleged hate speeches referred by them were made in the January and February and have been selectively used.
"Let the authority who are on the ground and are taking stock of the situation decide this," he said.
When Nundy said persons have also made hate speeches at Rajiv Chowk metro station here, the bench said, "We are told that you (Mander) have made certain remarks against this court as well. We want to know who all have violated the majesty of the law. Have you also violated the majesty of law?". "Despite careful use of words, we hear so many things about us," the CJI said.
Gonsalves referred to the alleged hate speech by Kapil Mishra and said after he made these statements, the violence started here.
"He (Mishra) said in the presence of Deputy Commissioner of Police that he will wait till Donald Trump (U.S. President) is in Delhi and after that if the roads are not cleared and anti-CAA protestors are not removed, he along with his supporters would come on the roads," he said, and referred to statements made by union minister Thakur, BJP MP Pravesh Verma and BJP MLA Abhay Verma.
Mehta told the court that when the high court took up the plea related to Delhi violence for hearing, it issued notice to him at 10.30 a.m. and asked him to respond by 12.30 p.m. on the same day.
"I may challenge this order of high court. This order should not have been passed," he said.
During the hearing, the bench mooted an idea to lawyers, including Gonsalves, for the parties and asked them to suggest names of some political leaders, including from BJP, or independent persons like lawyer Prashant Bhushan who can explore possibility of talking to the people on ground to bring peace.
Mehta vehemently opposed the name of Bhushan. When Gonsalves said that riots would have been avoided if police had caught the "main persons" who had given hate speeches, the CJI responded by saying, "We also have some experience of riots".
Gonsalves said he was "demoralised" when high court had adjourned the matter to April 13. Mehta said, "When Jamia matter was heard by the high court, some 50-60 persons shouted slogans of shame shame before the chief justice".
To this, the bench told Mehta, "We are not on the merits. We think adjournment by the high court for such a long period was not necessary and was not justified.
"As a matter of judicial discipline, we do not want to assume the jurisdiction of the high court as it is seized of the matter." The bench said it does not intend to say the high court was not justified in adjourning the case.